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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    It will be a huge job but one of the newest Australian Football teams in Europe, the Winterthur Lions, will be doing their nation proud next weekend at the AFL Europe Champions League tournament in Amsterdam. Having received a “wildcard” entry into the tournament as the only club in Switzerland, the Lions have nothing to lose and all to gain by the experience.

    A product of 2018, the Winterthur Lions Facebook page tells of their beginnings. “On Friday, 23rd February 14 pioneers and all-round legends gathered to found the only Aussie Rules football club in Switzerland. Thank you all for coming. We're very excited for the year ahead! New players of any experience level are welcome any time.”

     Winterthur is a city in the north of Switzerland, around 30 kilometres to the north-east of Zurich near the border with Germany. After having had a team based in Lugarno back in 2010 to compete in the AFL Italia competition and form the backbone of the country’s national team at the 2010 Euro Cup, and a brief emergence of the Zurich Steinbocks, there have been other small forays. However, Winterthur Lions now have the chance to build something big on the back of the recent appearance at last year’s Euro Cup in Bordeaux with the Swiss Mountain Cocks – the first Swiss team since 2010 at the event.

    AFL Europe’s recent article examining the teams travelling to Amsterdam gives greater insight into the team’s involvement next week and their journey. 

    Following is a part of the AFL Europe website’s article (see link) which looks specifically at the Winterthur Lions. 

    AFL Europe 2018 Champions League Team Previews – Part 4 http://www.afleurope.org/2018-champions-league-team-previews-part-four/ 

    WINTERTHUR LIONS - Stefan Burgener – President of Winterthur and AFL Switzerland

    Tell us a bit about your pathway to qualifying for the 2018 Champions League with a quick recap of your 2017 season.

    We received a wildcard qualification due to being the only team in Switzerland. Opposition teams are welcome to join!

     

    What has your preparation for this year’s tournament been like?

    We started pre-season training at the beginning of March with one session every Sunday. We are seeing a lot of improvement in skills and team play. Our biggest recruit would have to be Johannes Orlowski from the Rheinland Lions, a ruck/forward who brings a lot of experience, and currently plays for the German National Team.

     

    What does your side want to achieve coming to Amsterdam in 2018?

    We are in it for the experience and overall development of our game, but we also want to get at least one win on the board!

     

    Describe some players in your team that fans should keep an eye on at Champions League 2018.

    As mentioned above, Johannes Orlowski (no. 15) is one to watch, along with lars Mathis (no. 5), who is a fast-paced midfielder who has taken on the new game seamlessly. Matt Burgener (no. 3) is another to keep an eye on as a dangerous small forward.

     

    It proves to be an exciting time for the Winterthur Lions and footy in Switzerland in general. Just getting on the field will be step one, and the Lions seem pretty keen on taking many more steps after that. ...


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  • 04/02/18--04:47: Are We Breaking Our Kids?
  • As another football season commences in most Australian Rules football playing locations, it is a time to ponder one of the greatest risks to the game. The future of the game at grass roots level. The following article by J.J. Adams in the Vancouver newspaper and website, The Province, looks at the alarming drop in kids remaining in sports. His template is Hockey in Canada, but the messages are clearly universal, and will impact on Australian Rules football nationally and internationally unless we can find ways to arrest these trends. 

    Fear, greed, broken dreams: How early sports specialization is eroding youth sports 

    By J.J. Adams (The Province) http://theprovince.com/

     

    Kyle Turris is an NHLer because of his dog. Well, maybe not exactly, but while growing up his golden retriever deserves at least some of the credit for turning Turris into a 12-year NHL veteran. His ball-obsessed dog would chase a young Turris around their Burnaby backyard, the future hockey pro carrying a ball in his lacrosse stick as his hyperactive blur of fur tried to snag the hard rubber prize.

    Call it skills training.  

    “It helped in ways, like rolling off checks, and just being smart with how you protect the ball,” Turris said to Postmedia last week.

    “Just the athleticism that you can grow up with from the fun stuff like that from being outside. Playing games makes things a lot more fun.”

    Turris played all the sports growing up: Lacrosse, hockey, tennis and golf, to name a few. It helped him establish a solid athletic foundation, amplifying the genetics given to him by his lacrosse legend father Bruce and, most important, giving him enough enjoyment to stick with sports. 

    These days, alas, the fun in youth sports is rapidly fading, the dreams of children replaced by the ambitions of adults.

    As the system has become increasingly more “adultified,” there has been an atrophy of equal value in the numbers of children playing sports. A U.S. poll showed a 70 per cent attrition rate of children who quit sports for life by the age of 13, most of whom cited a lack of fun as their reason.

    Associations in different sports across the country are bleeding participation numbers, like B.C. Soccer, which said its enrolment fell seven per cent from last year. That mirrored a recent study by the Aspen Institute, which recorded a 23.5-per-cent drop in U.S. players ages 6-12 over a five-year period. 

    The trend towards early single-sports specialization — defined as nine months or more of a single sport, to the exclusion of others — has been fingered as the main cause. While other activities, like video games or the rise of alternative, non-traditional sports, have contributed to the bleeding, specialization is the cause of most of it, from overuse injuries, emotional and psychological damage, to straight burnout. 

    To continue reading this article, click on the following link to the full article in The Province’s website: http://theprovince.com/news/local-news/fear-greed-broken-dreams-how-early-sports-specialization-is-eroding-youth-sports/wcm/e0cd4110-9764-4e7f-b98f-46f31a8ee9ff

    As a coach of over 400 games of junior and senior football and having played junior football from ten years of age, this article resonates very clearly with me – I have seen these trends, and I will admit that at times have been guilt of some. I do believe it is incumbent on all coaches, officials and parents of kids- whether playing Australia Football or any sport- to consider the content of the article and begin the process of change. 

     

    We don’t see the impacts at the national level, but every time we see a club fold, or become low in numbers, it is a sign that the health of the club’s juniors be looked at. They are the future of all clubs in all sports. Even clubs without a junior base to draw on still need to foster an environment where young people can either flourish in the game or at least consider giving the game a go. 

    Photo Credit: AFL NSW/ACT ...


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    The Osaka Dingoes are hosting their IMPACT Anzac Day Cup Tournament on Saturday, 21 April at the Izumi Sports Village in the wider Osaka Region.
     
    The Osaka Dingoes, Tokyo Goannas, Komazawa Magpies and a merged team made up of the R246 Lions, Tokyo Bay Suns and Senshu Powers are participating in the tournament.
     
    This tournament will be held in respect for those who fought and served Australia and New Zealand at war and will provide AFL Clubs in Japan with a good opportunity to compete and develop their players and club.

    All participating teams will be playing against each opposing team once and a Grand Final will be held to decide the winner of the tournament.

    The tournament will be held between 1 pm and 5 pm. If you are around Osaka on that day, why not come out and watch some of our games!

    If you would like any further details, please email the Osaka Dingoes at osakadingoes@hotmail.com ...


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    Lisa Roper, is a 30 year coaching veteran with 10 years of Australian football experience and 16 years of playing Australian football. 

     In January she officially became the new assistant coach at the Darebin Falcons VFL Women’s team.

    Lisa saw the coaching position advertised and knew she had something to offer in her unique background so she applied for the position, deciding it was a great opportunity to further her coaching career. Lisa found out she was the assistant coach from head coach Jane Lange in November. There were quite a few who knew well before the announcement.

     

     

     

    Lisa left Sydney where she had coached and played football for ten years to join an all-female coaching team at Darebin in Melbourne’s inner north. This coaching team includes head coach Jane Lange and assistants Melbourne AFLW player Mel Hickey and Julia Chiera. When Lisa was an assistant coach in Sydney last year she was part of a different coaching make up, with “one other assistant and a head coach”.

    Lisa is thrilled to be part of a coaching team with extensive expertise. “I can’t wait for the season to begin and really get stuck in working with this panel.”

    She says she has mostly learnt from Julia Chiera since she has been at Darebin due to Mel and Jane’s commitments with Melbourne’s AFLW season. “I make use of her experience as a player from Darebin to speed me up with players and club history as we go along.”

    Lisa will be the forwards coach for Darebin and will need to learn the team’s match plans, because the other coaches were all past Darebin players so they know “the structures and set up very well”.

    Lisa’s excited to be at a VFLW club, which is “providing a complete football pathway from Auskick all the way to VFLW, but they are also providing development opportunities for women in key coaching and off-field roles.” She is also thrilled to be part of an all female coaching panel. This is huge in modern sport where females are becoming equals to men.

    Darebin fans reacted well to the news their team will be coached by an all female coaching staff. On Darebin’s Facebook page, Helen Riseborough commented with “Darebin Falcons have been leaders in this space for years! Go Falcons!” Ann Rulton another fan wrote, “great group of leaders go out and show them how it’s done.” The reigning VFLW premiers are hoping that this women’s coaching dream team, which will help them, stay at the top of the tree.

    There has been a rise in females becoming coaches in modern sports, however females are still underrepresented as coaches. ABC news writer, Tracey Holmes wrote an article in 2014 on how women are frowned upon when they either play, coach or commentate in the sporting industry. Holmes says many in the sports industry should follow “St Kilda, the San Antonio Spurs, Clermont Football Club and Andy Murray have shown there doesn’t need to be a balancing of the ledger through tokenism and positive action campaigns.” This has improved in 2018, but still women are underrepresented as coaches, as “sport is still most often framed as a male domain.” Even though, Lisa will be the fresh face in the coaching staff she hopes her many years of coaching and playing experience in Rugby, Soccer, AFL, Gaelic, Softball and Cricket at representative level will give her “a pretty well rounded perspective on sport, and most likely that has helped me have a good take on reading play, and hopefully that comes across in my coaching.” ...


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    Just at the moment, there is no actual football playing entity called AFL Estonia. There is no national team, no clubs and not even anyone on the ground in Estonia to get the ball rolling. Yet, like so many leagues and clubs across Europe before them, AFL Estonia is just one committed person (or people) away from becoming a very real entity. That catalyst required could be closer than many think.

    Chatting with the AFL Estonia Facebook page coordinator unearthed an interesting beginning. “I began the Facebook page from Australia as a kind of interest thing for expats in Estonia. Whilst there is some interest there, there is no one in Estonia to take the ball up and get things going. There are definitely people who would play so long as someone else [can drive] it. Finland, and in particular St. Petersburg, are very keen to see something start in Estonia. It would make a great link up.”


    “The Facebook page has a mix of expats in Estonia, Estonians in Australia, and players from other countries around the Baltic who are keen to see what happens in Estonia I guess. [To date] there have been no native Estonians join the page, which suggests they know [little] about it.”

    “AFL Europe will be making an Estonian version of the ‘What is Footy’ video which is exciting and makes me very interested to see if it generates interest within Estonia.’

    There is even a ready-made potential advocate/ambassador for AFL Estonia, with current Sydney Swans star, Dane Rampe, having a multicultural background with an Estonian father.

    Where the potential lies for AFL Estonia to grow wings is its geography. On the 26th May the Helsinki Heatseekers team from Finland is headed by ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia, en route to St Petersburg in Russia to play the Cats. The connection between the two teams is becoming bigger all the time as both clubs look at ways to get more matches into their players.

    By ferry, Tallinn is only a couple of hours way from Helsinki – around 80 kilometres away. Buses then link into Russia, specifically St. Peteresburg, just over five hours away. It is certainly already happening where the Heatseekers are offering for anyone interested from Tallinn to join their party to play in Russia. If this invitation grows legs it may also be the nucleus needed for both the Heatseekers and Cats to consider playing a neutral game in Tallinn – something that could be marketed to an Estonian audience, however small it might begin.

    What this does mean is that the concept of AFL football in Estonia is not as much of a pipe dream as some might think.

    It is hoped that even just one casual, curious Estonian boards the bus in May with the Helsinki Heatseekers crowd. Many leagues and teams have started humbly with just one passionate person. Maybe it is exactly what might happen for AFL Estonia.

    To find out more about AFL Estonia, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/haldusjuht/ . They would certainly love to hear from anyone with any interest at all in growing the game in Estoni ...

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    The new AFLG season draw has been released for the 2018 season in Germany, and as part of the excitement, it will feature the league’s newest entity, the Württemberg Giants. The team is a union of the Stuttgart Emus and the Freiberg Taipans – two separate teams coming together as one under the banner of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg of which Stuttgart is the capital.

    The union gives a great opportunity for the Giants to be immediately competitive, drawing on a player pool and historic connection to the game. The new Württemberg Giants hit the ground running, featuring in the first match and round of the new season. The play the Dresden Wolves in Stuttgart/Freiberg this weekend in a round robin opening draw which also features the Rheinland Lions.

    It is certainly an historic opening round, and also points towards being an even and exciting start to the 2018 AFLG season.


    Reigning premiers, the Berlin Crocs, have to wait until Round 2 to commence their title defence when they travel to Köln for their battle with the Rheinland Lions and Frankfurt Redbacks. After the initial round in Stuttgart, rounds 2 to 4 are played over two venues (see full draw below). Rounds 5, 7, 8 and 10 will feature three venues each, whilst rounds 6 and 9 will see single matches with the Giants and Redbacks hosting each other.

    The semi-finals are scheduled for August 26th in Köln, before the Grand Final in Dresden on September 15th.

    With no International Cup this year, the German Black Eagles National team get to play in the Euro Cup at the end of the AFLG season, allowing better team continuity for clubs also throughout the season. The Berlin Crocodiles will spend this weekend in Amsterdam as part of the AFL Europe Champions League tournament. They will be accompanied by a Hamburg Dockers women’s team in name, though in reality it will feature women from across all of Germany as the women’s game is grown nationally.

    A big season is coming in Germany, with everyone on the lookout for Giants.


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    The new AFLG season draw has been released for the 2018 season in Germany, and as part of the excitement, it will feature the league’s newest entity, the Württemberg Giants. The team is a union of the Stuttgart Emus and the Freiberg Taipans – two separate teams coming together as one under the banner of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg of which Stuttgart is the capital.

    The union gives a great opportunity for the Giants to be immediately competitive, drawing on a player pool and historic connection to the game. The new Württemberg Giants hit the ground running, featuring in the first match and round of the new season. The play the Dresden Wolves in Stuttgart/Freiberg this weekend in a round robin opening draw which also features the Rheinland Lions.

    It is certainly an historic opening round, and also points towards being an even and exciting start to the 2018 AFLG season.


    Reigning premiers, the Berlin Crocs, have to wait until Round 2 to commence their title defence when they travel to Köln for their battle with the Rheinland Lions and Frankfurt Redbacks. After the initial round in Stuttgart, rounds 2 to 4 are played over two venues (see full draw below). Rounds 5, 7, 8 and 10 will feature three venues each, whilst rounds 6 and 9 will see single matches with the Giants and Redbacks hosting each other.

    The semi-finals are scheduled for August 26th in Köln, before the Grand Final in Dresden on September 15th.

    With no International Cup this year, the German Black Eagles National team get to play in the Euro Cup at the end of the AFLG season, allowing better team continuity for clubs also throughout the season. The Berlin Crocodiles will spend this weekend in Amsterdam as part of the AFL Europe Champions League tournament. They will be accompanied by a Hamburg Dockers women’s team in name, though in reality it will feature women from across all of Germany as the women’s game is grown nationally.

    A big season is coming in Germany, with everyone on the lookout for Giants.


    ...

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    Riley Brettell from AFL Europe has put together the following preview of the upcoming tournament in Amsterdam. The original story can be found on the AFL Europe website at: http://www.afleurope.org/champions-league-2018-tournament-preview/ 

    The best 24 Australian Football teams in Europe are set to march on Amsterdam this week ahead of the AFL Europe’s 2018 Champions League tournament, which will see close to 400 players represent club sides from 14 different nations to vie for European supremacy.

     

    The 9-a-side event will be held on Saturday, April 7th at the Sportpark de Eendracht, with 54 matches across the day to decide the champions across both men’s and women’s divisions and making for one of Australian Footballs premier international spectacles.

    Games will be live streamed online via BarTV along with rolling coverage across all AFL Europe social media channels throughout the day, with AFL Europe General Manager Ryan Davey expecting the day to be a huge success. 

    “Champions League is one of the real marquee events for Australian Football throughout Europe and there has been a lot of work go in this year, not just from AFL Europe but from all the competing clubs and the players who have shown a real eagerness to get to Amsterdam in the best shape possible to make 2018 the best Champions League we have seen,” Davey said.

    “It’s a very rewarding feeling to see so many people with completely varying backgrounds and stories, in both footy and life, coming together in the name of Australian Football… There’s probably not many people in Australia that would recognise how strong the game is in Europe and what it means to the people who play it.” 

    Of course, hosting 54 games of football on one day at just one venue comes with its logistical challenges, with AFL Europe contending with the task of juggling the same challenges that come with most single or multi-day tournaments in regards to breaks between matches, time off before finals and giving all clubs a chance on centre stage, as Davey explained. 

    “Similar to other AFL Europe tournaments, the fixture was created via a ranked draw based off results from the past three years of competition, with teams drawn into four groups across the men’s division and two in the women’s, and the fixture took shape from there, although creating a fixture that all 24 clubs are happy with is never easy”

    “For the integrity of the tournament, it was important to get things like rest and recovery time, total playing time, start and finish times all as even as humanly possible throughout the day. Plus  we were also keen to provide as many teams as possible with the opportunity to play on the main stadium given the huge efforts they have made to get to Amsterdam.”

    The West London Wildcats return in 2018 to defend their crown as champions of Europe, with President Chad Sellenger, excited by the prospect of the side holding onto the title. 

    “Coming over to Amsterdam is a big highlight for our players each year, it’s a chance to enjoy a really great city and play against some really tough competition from around Europe,” Sellenger said.

    “Being in London there is always a high turnover over players coming and going so we have lost a fair amount but also gained some really important players that will drive our team forward in 2018.”

    “It was a tough group stage last year but we managed to get our way into the final coming up a resilient and disciplined Amsterdam Devils side, and we managed to come away with a hard-fought win… We are hoping – like everyone – to come away as Champions in 2018 once again.” 

    As the Wildcats look to see off a competitive men’s field once again, the newly formed Hamburg Dockers women’s side will be flying the flag for Germany in the clubs inaugural competitive tournament. 

    Team Manager Lisa Wilson says that development of female football in Germany will be of greater priority during the tournament than wins and losses.

    “A campaign has been created to launch women’s football in Germany with the Champions League competition being a focal point for growth with the Hamburg Dockers being granted a spot,” she said. 

    “Our preparations have been solely based around promotion of the sport and the building of the team as this will be the first ever German women’s Australian Football team to play in AFL Europe history… Our aim will be to promote the name of Germany Women’s Australian Football, inspire other German girls and girls in Germany to try the game and also to give game experience to the girls who have been training with the men but haven’t had the opportunity to play a game.” 

    Coverage of Champions League 2018 will kick-off at 9:30 am on BarTV, and you can stay across all AFL Europe social media channels for additional updates throughout the event.

     

    Click for 2018 Team Previews

    PART ONE – Wandsworth Demons (Women), Bordeaux Bombers, Zagreb Dockers, Berlin Crocodiles, Leeside Lions - http://www.afleurope.org/2018-champions-league-team-previews-part-one/

     

    PART TWO – Hamburg Dockers, Odense Lionesses, West London Wildcats, ALFA Lyons, Sesvete Double Blues - http://www.afleurope.org/2018-champions-league-team-previews-part-two/

     

    PART THREE – Port Malmo Lynx, Nottingham Scorpions, Greater Glasgow Giants, Styrian DownUnderDogs - http://www.afleurope.org/2018-champions-league-team-previews-part-three/

     

    PART FOUR – Oslo Crows, Manchester Mosquitoes, Winterthur Lions, Wandsworth Demons (Men) - http://www.afleurope.org/2018-champions-league-team-previews-part-four/

     

    STILL TO COME – West Clare Waves, Amsterdam Devils, North West Eagles, Bristol Dockers, Copenhagen Barracudas, Stockholm Dynamite

     

     

     

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    FOX SPORTS Australia Pty Ltd

    Round 3 of the 2018 AFL Season kicks off tonight at the MCG with the traditional blockbuster clash of the Blues and the Magpies.  American Mason Cox returns to the Collingwood team after his one week suspension from Round 1.

    The full international broadcast schedule can be seen below.

    In addition to the TV networks you can also subscribe to the Watch AFL service that will give you live access to all the matches and more (outside Australia only).

    You can access that service by clicking on the link here or the Watch AFL promo shot on the left to register and by then paying the subscription fee.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

      

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     All times subject to change - please check with your local guides ...


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    Christian Chynoweth has retired on top with a USAFL Division 1 National Championship. The Golden Gate Roos  could not be happier with Chyna's contribution and will be eternally grateful for his commitment to our program.

    The Roos are excited to announced that Jake Ryan, former Gold Coast Suns Academy Coach, has been appointed as the new Head Coach of the Division 1 team and will lead the way as they attempt to go back-to-back in October at the 2018 USAFL National Championships in Racine, Wisconsin.

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    Tash Gunawardana interviewed two-time Grammy and Academy Award winner Melissa Etheridge who is currently on tour in Australia with Sheryl Crow. Melissa has been in the music industry for 30 years and she said, “I am still in love with performing. I am still in love with sharing music with an audience. I still love the travel, the getting to see people and getting to new places. The award - that’s all fine and good - but the real stuff is in the journey everyday. Writing new music, performing the old hits and just loving it all.

    Image Source: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

     

     

     

     

     

     

    AFL fans and media have embraced Melissa, since her tweet on Easter Saturday about watching Australian football for the first time (the Collingwood Vs. Greater Western Sydney match).

    Melissa did not know at the time her tweet about AFL would attract so much attention from the footy world. From the result of this, Channel Ten’s “The Project” TV show had her and Sheryl Crow on - Fox Footy had her on AFL360 and a number of AFL teams have met with her.

    Despite having a lot of interest from AFL teams to get on board with them, Melissa is still yet to choose a team to support. She said, “I have a little affinity to the Crows, they were the first ones. The AFLW [Adelaide] Crows came to me and gave me a jersey so they were just the first. But tonight I’m meeting the [Melbourne] Demons. I’ve got a [Western] Bulldogs jersey. I am going to go see the [Carlton] Blues play.” Melissa’s decision to choose a team to support has been made harder. She said, “I have been cornered by a few teams and so I really don’t know. One needs to throw her allegiance but suppose I am still thinking, how about that.”

    When asked what she loves most about Australian Rules football, Melissa said, “I love the athleticism. I love that it requires you to be a runner and a kicker and to be able to catch and be precise. All those things and the kicking and in knowing where to be, I love the strategy of it all. I also love how much Australian’s love it. In the last week I have heard from fans from every single team. It’s just so great. I just love how important the team is to the fans. I love a community. I come from that in America and its just that sort of community does not exist, you know outside of that sports world. I really love it.”

    Melissa believes the rest of the world could get hooked on Australia’s game of football if they gave it time and the world needs to get out of their soccer head and the NFL. If they give it time, they will be able to see the “swiftness and just the precision of it. It’s quite thrilling. I do think. I wasn’t a fan of soccer either, but this is like the best of American football and soccer combined.”

    Melissa would love to become an AFLW ambassador and lend her voice to the women and girls playing footy. She is truly passionate about being this voice in women’s footy and she will be the perfect person to promote women’s footy in Australia and internationally. She said, “I love how young girls growing up these days can see strong women who are dedicated to teamwork and who are fulfilling their dreams. That’s what young girls need to see their choices and excitement in life. Pushing yourself to greater goals. That’s what children need. They just need that inspiration something to look up to.”

    Melissa has loved the way AFL fans and media have fallen in love with her own newfound love of Australian Rules football. She would love to come down to Australia again to watch the women’s footy and men’s footy finals, as she now absolutely loves our game.

    “I really have enjoyed the whole footy culture down here. I really love the feeling of it all. I love the way I am being embraced.”

            Image Source: @metheridge

      ...


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    Callum Twomey from the www.essendonfc.com.au website wrote this article in the lead up to the 2018 AFL season, looking at the journey of Irish Bomber, Conor McKenna. Since that time, McKenna has been one of Essendon’s best players in both of their games to date against the Adelaide Crows and the Fremantle Dockers. On Sunday, he is primed to take on the Western Bulldogs with his Bomber teammates. 

    In Ireland’s Gaelic competition, players very rarely switch clubs. They join the county side that is most local to them, where they've grown up, and stay there for the rest of their careers. 

    "Wherever you're born you play for," explains Conor McKenna, who left Ireland aged 18 to pursue an AFL career with Essendon. 

     

    "Basically back home it's like if you are born in Essendon, you play for Essendon. If you are born in North Melbourne, that's where you play.

     "It's all about that culture, and no matter if you're the worst team or the best team, you just play for that side.   

    "You can be traded, but it's very, very rare unless people have a job two or three hours from their home place. It's more about playing for the pride of where you're from." 

    Being a league of amateurs – players still have day jobs while they play at the top level in Ireland – makes this more understandable. But it also underlines how McKenna was faced with a new dilemma at the end of last season, when rival clubs came hunting for the dashing Bombers half-back as he remained out of contract.

    Brisbane offered a lucrative long-term deal and the Lions weren't the only ones to show their interest. But Essendon came to the party with a four-year deal tying McKenna to the club until the end of 2021, and the 21-year-old agreed to it.

    "Most Irish boys here stay with the same team. Maybe some players chase success, but I think we'll get success at Essendon so I'm happy," he told AFL.com.au on the eve of his fourth season. 

    "I didn't really talk much about the contract during last year, I wanted to concentrate on my football and not have any of that business taking my mind off it. I got to my last two games and started to get seriously talking. My manager said they'd offered a four-year deal, and I signed it. 

    "I never wanted to leave. I've been here for three years and for me to go somewhere else it would have meant, although I wasn't starting playing again, I would have had to meet new people, make new friends. It would have been a big change. I was always happy to stay at Essendon." 

    It's easy to see why McKenna had suitors. He's what clubs are searching for in their attacking backmen: he's fast, he loves to run and carry and he's a terrific kick. 

    Last season he played 19 games and averaged 17 touches, but McKenna still didn't feel settled. This year, after a pre-season interrupted slightly by an ankle injury he suffered preparing for the International Rules Series, he has a clear idea of how to improve again.

    "I really want to get to that consistent level where you know what you're going to get from me every week. That's where every player wants to get to and what we want as a team, so everyone knows they can look at me and know what I'm going to be able to give," he said.

    "You can't just stop now with one good year behind you." 

    McKenna's has been a swift rise. In April, 2014, he played with the European Legion (a side made up of players of different ages from across Europe) in London in a game against the touring national Academy squad of draft prospects for that year.

    Against the likes of Christian Petracca, Isaac Heeney and Lachie Weller, McKenna starred with four goals. 

    He had spoken to a couple of AFL clubs, including Essendon, before that day about a possible AFL career after showing his talents playing for Tyrone county. That night, several more recruiters introduced themselves to gauge his interest. 

    Six months later, he was officially a Bomber and another 10 months after that, he made his debut for Essendon against Richmond in round 22, 2015, kicking a goal with his first touch. 

    McKenna looks back on that game in London – his first ever – with some fondness as the beginning of a whirlwind. 

    "When you don't understand the game you just go out and play it with no fear and do whatever you can with the ball and that's what I did. I tried to play Gaelic with an AFL ball," he said. 

    "It's gone very quick. The first two years felt a bit slower and I was a bit homesick, but that's the main thing for Irish players – get over that and it becomes a lot easier. 

    "You have good days and bad days, and sometimes you wake up and see a video from back home and you miss it and wish you were there. But I have committed here now. It's my decision and if I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn't be." 

    McKenna's brother and his girlfriend have moved to Melbourne, and he's looking forward to moving in with them soon to counter his lack of family in Australia. 

    He still plans on one day heading back to play for Tyrone in the Gaelic competition – "… to win a premiership here and then one at home is the dream," he says – but until then the Bombers have his full devotion.

    However, he'll always have his Gaelic background running through his game, which was on show against Richmond in the JLT Community Series when McKenna twice kicked the ball to himself while running around an opponent. 

    "It's called a 'solo' back home, and you have to do one every four steps in Gaelic. I went to kick the ball and saw someone about to block it, so at last moment decided to pull it back. It worked the first time," he said. "The second time I did it, I don't know what I was thinking there."

    The original story can be found on the Essendon Football club website at: http://www.essendonfc.com.au/news/2018-03-20/mckenna-i-never-wanted-to-leave ...


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    Ireland now has a new European champion whilst the West London Wildcats have completed an amazing four-peat performance to take out the 2018 AFL Europe Champions League tournament held yesterday in Amsterdam.

    The West Clare Waves downed the Wandsworth Demons comfortably to take the women’s title, whilst the Wildcats downed the host team – the Amsterdam Devils – to take the men’s title.

    Men’s Grand Final: West London Wildcats 5 4 34 d Amsterdam Devils 2 2 14
    Women’s Grand Final: West Clare Waves 5 2 32 d Wandsworth Demons 0 3 3

    Across an enthralling day’s action, 17 men’s and 7 women’s team did battle to see which club, as opposed to nation, was the best in Europe. Since the inception of the competition in 2015, the West London Wildcats have proved to be the best men’s club in Europe, winning each championship. This year saw them raise the bar higher again for other clubs to match their dominance.


    This year, the West Clare Waves ousted last year’s women’s winners – the Wimbledon Hawks (not able to be at this year’s event) – to become European champions, and the first Irish team – women’s or men’s – to claim a Champions League title. It was an historic occasion, and icing on the cake for the Irish women’s league (ARFLIW) after coming to full fruition in 2017.

    The semi-final results saw the Wildcats signal their intent for the 2018 FL London competition when they downed reigning AFL London premiers, the Wandsworth Demons comfortably. The Amsterdam found their way to Champions League rematch with the Wildcats when they narrowly downed the Leeside ions by just two points in a thriller.

    The women’s semi-finals saw the Waves dominate the Port Malmo Lynx from Sweden, as they had done to all opponents across the day, whilst the Wandsworth Demons comfortably accounted or the Odense Lionesses from Denmark.

    Men’s Semi-Final Results:
    West London Wildcats 5 6 36 d Wandsworth Demons 1 3 9
    Amsterdam Devils 4 3 27 Leeside Lions 4 1 25

    Women’s Semi-Final Results:
    West Clare Waves 6 6 42 d Port Malmo Lynx 0 5 5
    Wandsworth Demons 7 5 47 d Odense Lionesses 1 2 8

    The day was a resounding success, and a credit to the Amsterdam Devils as hosts and AFL Europe as co-organisers of the event. For full details of match scores across the day, visit the AFL Europe Facebook page where most results are on display. Go to: https://www.facebook.com/AFL.Europe.Ltd/

    It is a time for the “west” to celebrate. The heroic West Clare Waves will return home as the nation’s first champions at this tournament, and be applauded roundly by the Irish footy-loving public. The West London Wildcats will also return to London with more silverware and a huge amount of momentum for their own AFL London season, beginning with the AFL London Pre-Season Cup on April 21st.

    All other clubs will return home planning for a return in 2019 when the AFL Europe Champions League returns to Amsterdam.




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    The AFL Tribunal will sit at 5.30pm tonight, Tuesday April 10 Melbourne time, to hear the charge laid against Essendon’s Conor McKenna from the weekend’s Match Review. 

    Irishman Conor McKenna, Essendon, has been charged with serious misconduct against Tory Dickson, Western Bulldogs, during the second quarter of the Round Two match between Essendon and the Western Bulldogs, played at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday.

    Based on the available video evidence and an investigation from the AFL, the incident was classified as serious misconduct. It is alleged that McKenna bit Dickson while on the ground near the boundary line after Dickson ran McKenna down and tackled him. 

    Under the Tribunal guidelines, serious misconduct is referred directly to the Tribunal and there is not the opportunity for an early plea to be offered.

     

      ...


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    The AFL Tribunal sat last night to hear the charge laid against Essendon’s Conor McKenna from the weekend’s Match Review. 

    Irishman Conor McKenna, Essendon, was charged with serious misconduct against Tory Dickson, Western Bulldogs, during the second quarter of the Round Two match between Essendon and the Western Bulldogs, played at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday.

    The incident was classified as serious misconduct and McKenna plead guilty to biting Dickson on the neck while on the ground near the boundary line after Dickson ran McKenna down and tackled him. 

     

     

     

     After representations from his defence Adrian Anderson as to the severity of the penalty, the tribunal banned McKenna for three matches.  

    McKenna's early season form had been red hot and is a big setback for the young Irishman.   ...


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    FOX SPORTS Australia Pty Ltd

    Round 4 of the 2018 AFL Season kicks off Friday night in Adelaide with the Crows hosting the Magpies.  

    The full international broadcast schedule for the round can be seen below.

    In addition to the TV networks you can also subscribe to the Watch AFL service that will give you live access to all the matches and more (outside Australia only).

    You can access that service by clicking on the link here or the Watch AFL promo shot on the left to register and by then paying the subscription fee.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

      

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     All times subject to change - please check with your local guides ...


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    The following is a media release from AFL Northern Territory announcing selections in the national Kickstart and World teams from the recent Diversity Championships in Sydney.


    AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) is pleased to announce that seven young Territorians were named in Flying Boomerangs and World Team squads to play two exhibition matches at the 2017 NAB AFL Under-16 Championships on the Gold Coast in July.

    Selected by AFL Club recruiters following the 2018 AFL National Male Diversity Championships held in Blacktown, the respective squads of 25 young men has been chosen based on school attendance, leadership skills, and football ability.

    The AFL Flying Boomerangs program is a personal development and leadership program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men aged 14-16 years old, supported by Rio Tinto. Meanwhile the World Team is made up of the best upcoming AFL multicultural players from across the nation.


    AFL General Manager Game Development, Andrew Dillon, said the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs and World Team programs are a great opportunity for the best rising Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural talent in the nation to develop on and off the field.

    “The Boomerangs and World Team squads have been selected following their impressive performances at the 2018 AFL National Diversity Championships in Blacktown this week.

    “These are more than just programs, we are now preparing the next generation of young leaders and footballers with the skills, qualities, and experiences to become positive role models amongst their own families and within their broader communities.

    “Over the past few years we have seen the Diversity Championships grow into a genuine elite talent pathway and we look forward to witnessing the next stage of development for these players, coaches, and umpires,” Mr Dillon said.

    Rio Tinto Managing Director, Joanne Farrell, said: “The AFL National Diversity Championships are a brilliant showcase for the diverse culture of Indigenous and multicultural communities from across the country. We are thrilled to support this amazing program.”

    “Flying Boomerangs is more than a football program, it’s a chance for our future Indigenous players to embrace their heritage on Australia’s biggest sporting stage.”

    AFLNT Development Coach Matt Campbell said the week away had a seen a great outcome for the Northern Territory.

    “This was the first time the NT has had selection in the World Team with Ariki and Andy – one from Darwin and one from Alice Springs which is good representation from across the Territory”.

    “With our Kickstart guys, four out of the five were from remote communities so congratulations go back to our remote staff from AFLNT and other programs there as well.”

    “It’s a great opportunity for these young lads to springboard their footy careers if you look back at the Flying Boomerangs program and how many players have been drafted from the program, not only from the Territory but all over Australia,” Campbell said.


    2018 Rio Tinto Flying Boomerangs

    Gundjarra Mununggurr (NT)
    Preyben Tipiloura (NT)
    Antonio James (NT)
    Jamie Baxter (NT)
    Taj Buitenhaus (NT)


    2018 World Team

    Ariki Lowe (NT)
    Andy Wakefield (NT)


    Rio Tinto is the principal partner to all of the AFL’s Indigenous Programs. Rio Tinto is one of Australia’s largest employers of Indigenous people, employing some 1600 Aboriginal men and women across the nation.

    ...

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    After the Easter weekend break, the final two rounds of AFL New Zealand certainly did not disappoint. Despite an upset (courtesy of the Western Crows) that derailed their hopes of an undefeated season, the Central Giants finished off as the recipients of the 2018 AFLNZ premiership.

    Round 8 Recap

    The Southern Saints took on the Northern Suns at QBE Stadium in the first game of the day. This north-south rivalry has been hotly contested all year, and the Round 8 edition was no exception.

    A pair of goals from both sides kept things fairly level for the first period, as the Saints’ Josh Morgan-Ranui showed his class, opening things up for tall forward Alex Fakatoumafi inside 50. The margin was only a goal at halftime, however, thanks to some clever ball movement by the Suns, particularly midfielder Mitch Ryan (two goals) and forward Robbie Mostert. The northerners led by a mere eight points at three-quarter time.

    The fourth quarter was the moment of truth for both sides, and ultimately, the Suns took advantage of their opportunities, booting six in the final term to give themselves a 35-point victory. Forward Will Kempt (two goals) was named best on ground.

    Final: Suns 14.8.92, Saints 9.3.57

    Best on ground (Suns): Will Kempt

    Best on ground (Saints): Blake Williamson

    Leading goalkickers (Suns): Robbie Mostert (4), Mitch Ryan (2), Will Kempt (2), Jackson Clince (2), Peter Van Kampen, Joel Brown, James Kusel, Layton Cahill

    Leading goalkickers (Saints): Charlie Dixon (4), Josh Morgan-Ranui (2), Alex Fakatoumafi, Michael Boyce, Clayton Walters

    Game two featured the top two sides -- the Giants and Crows -- and it was just as exciting as expected. Despite the Giants’ explosive forward line, the Crows were the ones who started off fast from the first bounce. Lewis Gill and Alastair Maisey both slotted goals early in the first, starting off a back-and-forth match that resulted in a virtual stalemate at halftime.

    The Crows’ backline was under siege all afternoon due to Giant superstar James McKenzie, who had already booted three majors by halftime. But those expecting a high-scoring, wide-open second half would be disappointed.

    Both sides turned up the pressure and kept the scores low, with the Crows ultimately scoring a massive 10-point win, giving the ladder-leading Giants their first defeat of the season. The Crows’ Sam Burdett was rock-solid in defence, and the Christchurch native earned a well-deserved best-on-ground nod for his efforts.

    Final: Crows 7.15.57, Giants 7.5.47

    Best on ground (Crows): Sam Burdett

    Best on ground (Giants): Nick Bailey

    Leading goalkickers (Crows): Lewis Gill (2), Zac Maio, Brad Wade, Alastair Maisey, Jevaan Croft, Chris Mundell

    Leading goalkickers (Giants): James McKenzie (3), Wayne Sullivan (2), Nick Bailey, Finn Moffat

    Round 9 Recap

    It was a Saints vs Crows clash in the final round of AFLNZ premiership action, and the Crows were left short-handed in the midfield, missing star Kiwis Te Kope Tipene-Thomas, Jay Johnson, and Shane Leat. With that trio gone, Saints captain Michael Boyce took full advantage, helping his side dominate the clearances and even kicking two goals himself.

    The Saints led by nine goals at the main break, as high-flying forward Alex Fakatoumafi kicked a record 10 majors in the contest (four of them in the first half). It was deja vu for the Crows backline, as Fakatoumafi had booted five goals against them back in Round 6. Ultimately, the Saints avoided the wooden spoon and also scored an AFLNZ premiership record 155 points in their win.

    Final: Saints 24.11.155, Crows 5.4.34

    Best on ground (Saints): Alex Fakatoumafi

    Best on ground (Crows): Ryan White

    Leading goalkickers (Saints): Alex Fakatoumafi (10), Dan Howie (3), Pat Gibbs (2), Michael Boyce (2), Nathan Hayes (2), Jackson Hemmingsen, Misilifi Faimalo, Josh Morgan-Ranui, Nico Donnell-Brown, Andriu Secu

    Leading goalkickers (Crows): Zac Maio (3), Ty Smith, Joseph Alesich-Tamariki

    The Giants were already outright AFLNZ premiers after Round 7, but the subsequent upset loss to the Crows had left a bad taste in their mouths. In the final round, the Giants righted the ship and gave themselves a boost heading into the offseason with a 92-point dismantling of the Suns.

    James McKenzie kicked five goals on the day for the winning side, cementing his name in AFLNZ history with a premiership-record 31 goals on the season. The Giants were only four goals ahead at halftime, but the outcome was never truly in doubt as they cruised to a big victory. Key midfielder James Dakin was influential, and James Bowden (three goals) combined with Josh Cunliffe (six) for an offensive flurry that kept pressure off McKenzie in the forward line. Dakin received best on ground for his efforts.

    Final: Giants 23.12.150, Suns 8.10.58

    Best on ground (Giants): James Dakin

    Best on ground (Suns): Matthew Bennetts

    Leading goalkickers (Giants): Josh Cunliffe (6), James McKenzie (5), James Bowden (3), Sam McKenzie (2), Sean Andrews (2), Tayne Lockwood (2), Elliott Bennetts, Wayne Sullivan, Andrew Johnston

    Leading goalkickers (Suns): Dan Otley (4), Will Kempt (2), Matt Colless, Reyne Westbury

    That’s a wrap on the 2018 AFL New Zealand premiership season, but there’s still plenty of other footy-related action on the other side of the Tasman.

    On April 22nd and 24th, the New Zealand national team will take on the NAB AFL Academy side at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. It’s an excellent opportunity for the Kiwis to show their skills against some highly-touted Aussie youngsters -- many of whom could be playing on the MCG sooner rather than later. On the 23rd, the AFLNZ Combine will take place, also in Wellington at the ASB Sports Centre.

    Additionally, the Mornington Peninsula juniors league is sending three separate teams -- a U14 boys side, a U16 boys side, and a women’s team -- to compete against some AFL New Zealand academy prospects (also on the 24th). It’s a special occasion for all involved, particularly during the buildup to Anzac Day. ...


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    The Osaka Dingoes hosted their second IMPACT Anzac Day Cup Tournament at Izumi Sports Village in the wider Osaka Region on Saturday, 21 April 2018.

    Beautiful sunshine welcomed the Tokyo Goannas and a merged team of Tokyo Bay Suns, R246 Lions and Senshu Powers, all Kanto based clubs.The maximum temperature hit 26 degrees and that was too warm for playing footy.

    The Osaka Dingoes President Matt Gale, made an opening ceremony speech honouring the Anzacs who served their country with pride and dignity. The speech was interpreted into Japanese by Yoshi Imagawa.

    The opening game was played by the Goannas and the merged side. The merged team mainly formed by Japanese players showed great ball handling with accurate handballs and kicks. The Goannas whose majority are expats fought hard, but the Samurais spirits went further.

     
    In the following match, the hosting Dingoes faced the merged team. The Dingoes attacked hard with fast pace and went in to win their only match against the eventual winners by seven points.
     
    The third match was played by the Dingoes and Goannas. Like the previous match, the Dingoes showed hungry spirits to win the game, but gave away a winning ticket to the Goannas.
     
    All teams had the second round in the same order as the first round. On field performances in games were similar to the first round with bigger margins.
     
    The merged team took a trophy to their home. Michito Sakaki from the R246 Lions was awarded an MVP of the tournament. He is a good midfielder and the best at in AFL Japan.
     
    See below for the full round up of the scores.
     
    Round 1
     
    Merged Team 4.2 (26)
    Tokyo Goannas 2.6 (18)
     
    Osaka Dingoes 5.3 (33)
    Merged Team 3.8 (26)
     
    Tokyo Goannas 4.7 (31)
    Osaka Dingoes 4.1 (25)
     
    Round 2
     
    Merged Team 5.8 (38)
    Tokyo Goannas 1.1 (7)
     
    Merged Team 5.4 (34)
    Osaka Dingoes 3.2 (20)
     
    Tokyo Goannas 10.3 (63)
    Osaka Dingoes 0.2 (2) ...

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    Westpac stadium in Wellington has hosted a big day of footy with the AFL NZ team taking on the highly talented AFL AIS Academy squad. The curtain raiser was the NZ girls against the touring Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League girls side in a follow up to their Sunday morning first instalment.

    Following on from their 4.9.33 to 1.0.6 win on Sunday morning - the NZ Youth Girls backed up with a 3.6.24 to 1.6.12 win.

    The senior AFL NZ line up included a number of familiar faces from the IC17 squad along with some new comers. Debutant Dean Staunton scored the first behind for the Hawks.

    The first quarter was a tight after - with goals to Delahunty and Davis for the tourists while Mykelti Lefau scored the first for the Hawks and a mark on the siren to Barclay Miller saw a familiar post siren scenario to kick the Hawks second. At quarter time a deficit of a solitary behind. As expected - as the game draws on the Australians would pull away and this began in the second term however the Hawks added 2 more goals via Andy Howison and James McKenzie to trail by 37 at the main break.

    The first 10 mins of the 3rd term belonged to the Hawks and with goals to Lefau and Misilifi Faimlalo the Hawks closed the margin trailing 66 to 40; however again as the quarter wore on the Academy side slammed on 5 late goals to head into the final break comfortably ahead by 58. The final quarter was all one way traffic as the Academy piled on the pain. For the NZ Hawks however - for 2 and a half quarters they were more than competitive and illustrates the improving skills and play being developed in New Zealand.

    Match Details:

    Westpac Stadium, Wellington 11:30am
    NZ Hawks vs AFL AIS Academy
    Team 1/4 1/2 3/4 Final
    NZ Hawks 2.1.(13) 4.3.(27) 6.5.(41) 6.6.(42)
    AIS Academy 2.2.(14) 10.4.(64) 15.9.(99) 21.21.(147)

    NZ Goal Kickers: M.Lefau 2, B.Miller, A.Howison, M.Faimlalo, J.McKenzieNZ Best Players: J.Johnson, M.Faimlalo, T.Smith

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